The Gendered Workplace

In Barbara F. Reskin article, “Bringing the Men Back In: Sex Differentiation and the devaluation of Women’s Work”, she observes the significant gap in wages between different genders in the work place. In most cases, males out earned their counter females, by as much as 50% in 1986. Reskin believes that this income gap exists because there is a segregation of jobs, where males acquire the high paying jobs, and leave the lower status jobs for females. This segregation of jobs stemmed from males desire to preserve their high paying jobs, and re-write rules to allow them to keep their high position (Reskin 2000:258). As more women enter the workforce, social differences in gender must be broken down to ensure equality and value of women’s contributions in the workplace.
One reason a wage gap exists between males and females is that males who hold high paying positions will do anything possible to preserve their position. As women enter the workforce, only lower subordinate jobs are available to them, while the males re-write the rules to keep themselves in power. Males feel threatened by the fact that women are competing with them, thus they need to differentiate themselves based on gender through a hierarchical system in order to stay in power(Reskin 2000:258).
The push for males to differentiate themselves between women leads to a segregation of occupations based on gender, with males tending to hold high paying jobs and leaving lower paying jobs for females. A Science Mode article shows that there is a gap of high paying males and lower paying females is in California. “Women hold 9.4 percent of the 3,283 board seats in the 400 largest public companies in California.” This includes companies such as Apple computers, who have no women in any top company positions(Davis, 2007). This shows that males dominate top paying board positions by holding 90.6% of the top paying jobs.
Many of these companies are technology and electronic corporations, which tend to be dominated by men. A 2000 study by the National Science Foundation (NSF) 2000 reported that women comprise of 19% of total undergraduate enrollment in engineering programs across the country (Trenor 2007). Technology and engineering fields are being dominated by males with little competition from females. These fields are expanding at fast rates and are creating many high paying jobs, with the majority of them being given to males.
The differential feminist point of view states that women are different from men, but instead of saying men are better than women, women’s differences should be valued. Women tend to be better than men in fields of communication, clerical and emotional work(Reskin 2000:260). I suggest the segregation of this gap exists because these differences utilize different skills that are required for specific jobs. It not that males are fighting to preserve their power, but that females fit into jobs that happen to pay less than their male counterparts.
As corporations try and equal the playing fields between males and females in the workplace, quotas are being placed for the number of males and females. This however leads to bias, as a male engineer who is within the 80% of graduates has a harder time getting a job compared to a female engineering undergraduate. These quotas help keep a balance for genders, much like Affirmative Action keeps a balance on race, however it depends what side of the stick you are on for it to be beneficial.
I believe that current society provides equal opportunity for all genders to enter the workforce and be compensated equally, especially in the United States. I believe that the physical and biological differences in gender have a large influence on the occupation for a specific individual. As the high paying field of engineering is dominated by males, males will continue to out earn women, however, women have the same opportunity, if not more to take the same path as males, but choose a career path more suited to their individualistic needs. Females tend to specialize in the communication and service based occupations, it is the societies needs that place a premium on how much a jobs is needed, and thus how much it should be compensated for.

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